Italian Style Tomato Sauce

Prep Time: 30 min.
Total Time: 1 hrs. 5 min.
Servings: 3 (16 oz.) pints
Stores up to 1 year

This is my favorite Italian style tomato sauce recipe for Roma, San Marzano, Viva Italia or Brandywine plum tomatoes. It consistently delivers a pleasing Italian flavor with no olive oil and a balance of low-acid vegetables with added lemon juice acid. Use this sauce as a base for Italian pizza, spaghetti or pasta sauce and lasagna. One taste and I’m transported back to Rome and Umbria. It’s easy to prepare and ideally suited for water bath canning.

A word of caution about canning tomatoes. Altering ingredients or quantities in this recipe could change the pH balance and may result in an unsafe product.*


8 cups plum tomato purée
2/3 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 Tbsp. lemon juice, fresh or bottled
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes
3 (16 oz.) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands


1. Prepare a boiling water canner. Heat the canning jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not bring the water to a boil. Set bands aside.

2. Combine 1 cup of tomato purée, onion, celery, carrot and garlic in a large stainless steel saucepan, Bring to a boil over medium to high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat, cover and boil gently until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. While maintaining a steady boil, add remaining tomato purée, 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, black pepper and hot pepper flakes. Increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is reduced by one third.

3. Ladle the hot tomato sauce into heated jars leaving ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and re-measure the headspace. If needed, add more tomato sauce to meet recommended headspace. Wipe the jar rim, center the lid on jar, and apply the band. Tighten the band until it is fingertip tight.

4. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes at altitudes under 1,000 ft. For higher altitudes: add 4 minutes for altitudes up to 2,000 ft., or add 6 minutes up to 3,000 ft.

5. Remove jars and cool. Check all lids for a proper seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when the center is pressed.

* There are several trusted resources to check suspicious canning recipes; The USDA’s Book of Safe Canning, National Center for Home Food Preservation, and the Ball Corporation. All of these organizations offer reliable advice and recipes.

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